It probably isn’t surprising that before visiting your restaurant, most guests went online to find out more about your menu or check to your hours. But, can you be sure they found what they were looking for? More than ever, a great website is crucial to restaurant success.
Kat Romanoff, founder and creative director of Kromad — a boutique design agency in Montreal — knows how important it is. She’s built sites for many restaurants, including Arthurs Nosh Bar, Beatrice Ristorante, Biiru, Escondite and Koa Lua, among others. And, when it comes to why a great restaurant website is essential, Romanoff says, “Potential clients can get a peek at the restaurant, its contact information and access the menu to see the prices and what the restaurant has to offer. It’s also great for customers who have dietary restrictions to see if there are any available options for them.”
Guy Benron, head of Restaurants Group at New York-based Wix.com, a drag-and-drop website builder, agrees. “Nowadays, restaurants need an online presence more than ever and a website is one tool in the online toolbox successful restaurants use. At its most basic, a website is a restaurant’s showcase and can also generate business in the form of online ordering and table reservations.”
Though a necessary expense, the cost of a website can vary greatly. For a custom-built option, Romanoff quotes her boutique’s starting point at $2,650, noting this price changes based on features and customization. However, online needs vary and, if you consider yourself web-savvy, creating your own website might be the best option. DIY template builders start at a monthly rate of about $20 but add-ons such as email, domains, apps and premium features can drive the price up.
No matter which option you choose, both DIY and professionally built sites require maintenance. “A website needs to be continuously updated with new and relevant content to not only keep site visitors engaged, but also to help with your SEO (search-engine optimization) ranking,” says Benron.
From the guest’s perspective, what’s on your website is what they will expect when they arrive, so keeping your site updated avoids the pitfalls that come when expectations and reality clash. To decide what should go on your restaurant’s website, consider how and where potential guests search when looking for a place that has what you offer — and make sure that information is there for them to access easily.
“Must-haves would be easy access to the menu, location (map) and opening hours, as well as any social media. Quick access to reservations is important,” says Romanoff.
Benron says imagery is also key. “A mouth-watering gallery of professionally shot food photos will make an impression and set a restaurant apart.”
Finally, Romanoff stresses the importance of being easily viewed on a small screen. “It’s very important to have a mobile-friendly site since the majority of customers will be viewing the site from their mobile phone.”
“With people ordering, reserving and making decisions on-the-go, a mobile-friendly site will make it easier to choose”, says Benron. Ideally, to choose you.
Written by Andrea Victory